Stakeholders' perspectives on the role of regulatory reform in integrated reporting

Wendy Stubbs, Colin Higgins

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31 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reports on an exploratory study of the preferences of users of non-financial reporting for regulatory or voluntary approaches to integrated reporting (IR). While it is well known that companies prefer voluntary approaches to non-financial reporting, considerably less is known about the preferences of the users of nonfinancial information. IR is the latest development in attempts over 30 or more years to broaden organisational non-financial reporting and accountability to include the wider social and environmental impacts of business. It promises to provide a more cohesive and efficient approach to corporate reporting by bringing together financial information, operational data and sustainability information to focus only on material issues that impact an organisation s ability to create value in the short, medium and long term. The study found more support for voluntary approaches to IR as the majority of participants thought that it was too early for regulatory reform. They suggested that IR will become the reporting norm over time if left to market forces as more and more companies adopt the IR practice. Over time IR will be perceived as a legitimate practice, where the actions of integrated reporters are seen as desirable, proper, or appropriate. While there is little appetite for regulatory reform, half of the investors support mandatory IR because, in their experience, voluntary sustainability reporting has not led to more substantive disclosures or increased the quality of reporting. There is also evidence that IR privileges financial value creation over stewardship, inhibiting IR from moving beyond a weak sustainability paradigm.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)489–508
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Integrated reporting
  • Sustainability reporting
  • Voluntary reporting
  • Mandatory reporting
  • Reporting frameworks
  • Reporting standards

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